Sweden’s first female PM quits on first day on the job, hopes for quick return

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STOCKHOLM – Sweden’s first female Prime Minister, Social Democrat Magdalena Andersson, stepped down on Wednesday after less than 12 hours in her leadership post after the Green Party quit its bipartisan coalition, fueling political uncertainty.

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But Andersson said she told the speaker of parliament she hoped to be re-appointed prime minister as head of a one-party government, and the prospects for that to happen seemed pretty strong given the support from others. gone.

The Green Party resigned after parliament rejected the coalition’s budget bill.

“I have asked the speaker to be relieved of my duties as Prime Minister,” Andersson said at a press conference. “I am ready to be Prime Minister in a one-party Social Democratic government. “

The Green Party has said it will support her in any further confirmation votes in parliament, while the Center Party has promised to abstain, which in practice amounts to backing her candidacy. The Left Party has also said it will support her.

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Although these parties could not agree on a budget, they are united in the goal of preventing the Swedish Democrats, a populist and anti-immigration party, from having a role in government.

“The Center Party will open the door for him (Andersson) to become prime minister,” its leader, Annie Loof, said on Twitter.

“We will ensure, once again, that Sweden can have a government that does not depend on the Swedish Democrats.”

Opposition moderates and right-wing Christian Democrats are supported by Swedish Democrats, but cannot have a majority in parliament.

CHALLENGES

Andersson succeeded Stefan Lofven as Prime Minister at the head of a bipartite minority coalition backed by left and center parties. But that alliance collapsed when the Center Party refused to support the new government’s finance bill.

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Parliament then passed spending plans drawn up by three opposition parties on Wednesday, prompting the Green Party to quit the coalition and leaving Andersson with no choice but to resign.

The speaker of parliament will now decide on the next step in the process of finding a new government, but will most likely put Andersson up for another vote in the coming days.

“We expect the left, green and center parties to abstain in the next vote and therefore effectively endorse Andersson as prime minister,” the Nordea banking group said in a note. “In other words, the political chaos is over until nothing more unexpected happens.”

Anyone who becomes prime minister faces major challenges, and a national election is slated for next September.

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Gang violence and shootings ruin life in many large cities.

The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed gaps in the much-vaunted welfare state and the government must accelerate the transition to a green economy if it is to meet its climate change targets.

The center-left and center-right blocs are fundamentally deadlocked in the polls.

The fact that it took so long for Sweden to have a female prime minister is embarrassing to many in a country that introduced universal suffrage 100 years ago and has long championed gender equality.

Neighboring Norway had its first female leader 40 years ago. Sri Lanka was the first country to elect a woman prime minister in 1960.

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